Gratitude versus Appreciation

Do you think there is a difference between gratitude and appreciation, or is it just semantics? Technically they are synonyms but I think, on a spiritual level at least, there is a difference.


Gratitude versus appreciation

We say “grateful to”, but “appreciative of”. Its the “to” and the “of” that gives a hint as to what I’m on about.

Feeling grateful to someone or something implies it can be taken away or was given/shown to you by a force outside of you.   One of the definitions of the word gratitude is “the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.” To me saying “I am grateful” is like saying thank you for being deemed worthy to receive this great thing bestowed upon me, and the definition seems to supports that. 

Whereas being appreciative of someone or something means you see it for what it is, and you get a positive feeling when you do. When I appreciate something, it’s purely my feeling about something – it’s not reliant on outside forces giving or showing it to me.

Notice the change in you when you read these two statements:

“I’m grateful that I have strong legs with which I can walk along the Thames River every morning.”

“I appreciate my strong legs with which I can walk along the Thames River every morning.”

There is a difference, isn’t there? Or am I being silly? To me the first sentence has a slight hint that there is a chance that whoever decided to give me strong legs could change their mind and take it away. It’s as if I’m giving my Power away by using the word “grateful”. But when I’m appreciative, I’m feeling good about the thing, not the force/person who gave or revealed the thing to me.  Appreciation is not reliant on anything or anyone else – it’s a feeling generated from within yourself.

I read this article on Beliefnet about the difference between gratitude and appreciation. In it the author says:

One distinction that we found that was commonly shared is that
gratitude is the base from which appreciation grows and flourishes…if we’re
paying attention. That is, we can be grateful for something in our lives
without really appreciating it.

Nailed it. In fact their whole article really gets to the bottom of what I’m trying to say about gratitude versus appreciation. I wrote this blog post because I noticed the difference in how I felt when I used “gratitude” and “appreciate”, but saying that you can be grateful for something without appreciating it, sums it up really well.

Being grateful and being appreciative are both incredibly positive emotions and will attract more of the good stuff to you, which is of course pretty awesome. I just think we should aim to be more appreciative than grateful. But still be grateful. Don’t ever stop being grateful. Just try to be more appreciative. (Am I rambling? I think I am.)

I’d be grateful if you could leave a comment to tell me what you think about gratitude and appreciation. I appreciate your thoughts.  (See what I did there?)




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